It is utterly disgusting that in 2017 we still need to have conversations about the unacceptability of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Though our laws guarantee equality of the sexes and freedom from discrimination, the fact that so many Canadians shared the hashtag #MeToo indicates that sexual harassment and assault are still very much a problem.

For those unfamiliar with the #MeToo movement, it started with reports that movie producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed and assaulted the women he worked with. The hashtag was used to show the magnitude of the problem of sexual harassment and assault, the idea being that if every victim shared it on their social media feed, society would finally understand how vast the problem is.

This article is a primer on sexual harassment and assault in Canada.

Sexual harassment is a form of harassment based on the person’s sex. According to the Quebec Institut National de Santé Publique, legally a victim must prove three things in order to prove sexual harassment:

  1. “Unwanted sexual behaviour
  2. That manifests itself repeatedly, and
  3. That has adverse effects on its victims.”

The behavior can be anything from words to actions to posters, but for the victim it has to feel “targeted and unwelcome” with adverse effects. In Quebec the behavior has to be repetitive and harassment can manifest itself in being denied raises or promotions in retaliation for refusing sexual advances, or sexual behavior in the workplace that creates a hostile environment for the victim(s).

Legal recourse for victims of sexual harassment can consist of filing a complaint against your employer with the Commission des Normes de Travail (CNT), filing a civil liability suit against their harasser, or lodging a criminal harassment complaint which could get the offender up to ten years in jail. The employee could also, where applicable, file a complaint for psychological harassment with the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CSST) and request compensation if the harassment is so severe he or she can no longer work.

Now let’s talk about sexual assault and consent.

Sexual assault is any application of force to another person that is sexual and without the other person’s consent.

Consent is the voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It can be withdrawn at any time, and there is no consent where the victim was coerced, incapable of agreeing to the sexual activity due to their age or, for example, because they’re unconscious, or if someone agreed to the activity on their behalf.

There is also no consent if you abuse a position of power or trust, or of course, if the person expresses lack of consent. Passivity does not constitute consent.

Without consent, there is sexual assault. The penalty for sexual assault in Canada is a maximum penalty of five years, or if a weapon was used causing bodily harm, a maximum of ten years.

Myths

That said, we need to debunk a few myths:

  • MYTH: A woman’s behaviour or style of dress provokes sexual assault

The argument goes like this:

“If she’d been more modest (in dress or behavior) this never would have happened.”

No behavior or manner of dress excuses sexual assault.

Arguments about behavior and dress shift the blame from the assaulter to the victim, and reinforce toxic gender stereotypes against men and women by claiming that sexual assault is a woman’s problem, and that the reason assaults happen is because men are horny aggressive beasts who can’t control themselves and women provoke them.

Here’s a wakeup call: conservatively dressed people get assaulted, as do less conservatively dressed people. Quiet, modest people get assaulted, as do the bombastic and loud. Men get assaulted, as do women. To quote the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centers:

“Offenders are solely responsible for their own behaviour.”

  • MYTH: Sexual Assault is over reported

Less than ten percent of all sexual assaults are reported.

There is a huge stigma associated with reporting assaults, making harder on the victim than on the offender. This is likely because our culture still lacks a proper grasp of what constitutes consent. As a result victims are often interrogated and dragged through the mud about their behavior before and after the assault, rather than their attackers.

  • MYTH: It’s not Sexual Harassment if the victim does not complain about it

The unequal relationship that often exists between employees and their harasser will often lead to silence for fear of causing conflict that could jeopardize their job.

  • MYTH: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault are Women’s Problems

Men are often the victims of sexual harassment and assault, though it is likely that the available numbers about it are a modest estimate due to under-reporting.

The stigma associated with males reporting their victimization is likely because our society still adheres to notions of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity pushes a narrow and repressive notion of what it means to a man, specifically that any display of stereotypically feminine traits, such as emotional vulnerability or even being victimized makes you less of a man. According to a 2015 article in Psychology Today, the men most likely to be victims of sexual harassment were those who deviated from stereotypical notions of masculinity by being members of a sexual minority or being involved in feminist causes. Men who challenged traditional gender roles were also more likely to be victimized.

It should be said that even if sexual harassment and assault were strictly women’s problems, it does not lessen importance of fixing the problem. If we as a society recognize that women are fully human, a problem that affects only them must be recognized as a problem that hurts us all.

It should also be said that gender segregation is not a solution because it puts the onus of avoiding harassment and assault on the people who are victimized. This encourages and exacerbates a culture of victim blaming.

So what is the solution?

We need to teach people about consent as early as possible, that means teaching kids about the importance of personal physical boundaries and evils of sexism and unwanted touching. The lessons should be taught to all genders and not just to girls as they generally are now.

Schools should have a zero-tolerance policy about sexual harassment and assault and even something we used to think of as a common joke – snapping bra straps – should be recognized as a form of assault and punished accordingly. Our education ministries would be wise to consult experts on sexual harassment and assault to better develop these policies and education programs.

The rules in Quebec about sexual harassment need to change.

Under our current rules, isolated incidents of sexual harassment are not considered as such, and they should be, particularly if the actions or words of the offender are significant enough to make a work environment hostile for the victim. A boss who tells a female employee “fuck me or you’re fired” and does not pursue it further should be seen as just as much of a harasser as one who regularly makes sexist jokes around his or her coworkers.

Last but not least, we need to better screen judicial appointees and law enforcement to ensure that, for example, people like former superior court judge Robin Camp are NEVER allowed to decide a rape case.

Law enforcement needs to be better trained to treat the victims like victims so they’re not so scared to come forward. Anyone lacking proper knowledge and empathy to deal with issues of sexual violence should be made to undergo sensitivity training and pass an exam to secure their position. Those who fail should be denied employment.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are problems that affect us all. There’s no avoiding it, and there’s no denying it.

It’s time we fight it.

There’s something we need to talk about. The city of Montreal likes to position itself as a cultural mecca. They finance enormous already-profitable events, spend billions renovating large touristic spaces and pay millions of dollars to light up a bridge. All of that has economic value and I understand why they do it. But, tourism and culture are two different things.

The underground arts community is where every superstar has cut his, her or their chops and where real cultural evolution takes place before it works its way into mass media. Over the last few years, the city’s policies have inadvertently been hurting Montreal’s arts scene. Whether we’re talking about complications related to noise regulations, zoning bylaws or licensing issues, most people in the underground arts community have stories that paint a different narrative.

My story starts about eight years ago. Before Facebook became ubiquitous, independent artists and event presenters had one crucial and affordable way of promoting their events: posters. The city provided little to no space for community announcements and so artists and event presenters used public lampposts to promote their activities. The problem, of course, was that this was illegal.

A group of independent event producers that included Pop Montreal and the Montreal FRINGE Festival were so aggravated by repeated fines imposed by the city that they formed C.O.L.L.E., a working group to address the issue, in 2010. This allowed a conversation to start about a question that disproportionately effects underground creators, since most don’t have the means to buy expensive advertising space.

That same year, the Quebec Superior Court ruled Montreal’s anti-postering law to be illegal and unenforceable. The decision found that unless the city provides space for its residents to display posters and community notices, a regulation limiting their distribution on city property violated its citizens’ free speech rights. After this decision, the city stopped fining event presenters and bands, putting the question to bed temporarily.

The court’s decision gave the city six months to rewrite its postering bylaws. Seven years later, that has still not happened and public postering spaces have not been installed in numbers that come close to satisfying the court’s requirement – this despite numerous proposals and pilot projects presented to the city by members of its cultural community. City employees, though, have again started operating as if the activity were illegal.

I run a cultural business with a few different departments, one of which is a street marketing agency that distributes materials in print and digitally to indoor and outdoor spaces around Montreal to promote cultural activities. We have some clients that are big companies. But, most are independent festivals, labels, venues and artists with limited means. Postering can represent a significant portion of their communications and our work promoting their event on their behalf is unjustly effected.

The city seems to have overlooked this legal precedent and the moral imperative it sets out. Municipal employees seem to still believe that postering is illegal, a falsehood that prompts harassment from city works employees, garbage collectors and most often the police.

The city also prints and installs signage on lampposts warning would-be posterers of that activity’s illegality, citing a regulation that to the best of my research no longer exists – and if it did, it would be unenforceable. It spends time and money installing ridged lampposts meant to make postering more tenuous covered in anti-adhesive paint. It spends hundreds of thousands (and possibly even millions) of dollars every year hiring staff to rip posters off of its lampposts; money that is not counterbalanced by revenues from postering fines, which would be illegal to collect given the current legal context.

In short, this problem from 2010 has resurfaced in a slightly different context. Montreal is, to my knowledge, the only major city in Canada that does not provide public postering space to its citizens. There have been proposals presented by Montreal’s cultural community, including one from myself, which would, it should be noted, not only eliminate costs but generate revenue for the city and which I would be glad to talk more about. But, the city has never dealt with the problem despite the efforts of its creative class to resolve it.

Why should you care? There are three reasons. Firstly, it is your money being wasted. The city spends our tax dollars as it sees fit and bears a serious fiscal responsibility. There are so many city workers now charged with keeping posters off lampposts on major arteries in the city centre that posters are often torn down within the day or even a few hours.

Second, this is a liability for the city and it is your money that will be at risk should a group of citizens decide to sue the city for having supplanted their free speech rights.

Lastly, and this may even be the most important reason, it’s essential to recognize the cultural enrichment being withheld from the public. Emerging musicians, comedians, dancers and visual artists can’t afford to buy ad time on TV, the radio, in the metro or on the sides of city buses. Postering is the one analog real-world promotional avenue in a digitized media-scape that is accessible to our city’s artists and creators. It is affordable, democratic and honest.

I hope you’ll understand my frustration and please know that I’m available to continue the conversation. I’m confident that the municipal government is not indifferent to this issue, since we can all agree that Montreal’s place as a creative hub forms an essential part of the city’s identity. I would like to work to bring about solutions that strengthen our arts community and invite the city and its citizens to join the conversation.

Sincerely,

 

Jon Weisz
Founding Director
Indie Montréal

People tell me things they would not tell anyone else, not their mom, not even their therapist or childhood best friend. I get bro status instantly when most girls would not. Guys hear that I like girls too (I like all humans) and assume that I want to hear about all the dirties of their sex life instantly. I’m not mad, always looking for artistic inspiration.

This is what brings us to the topic of erotic asphyxiation. A guy was telling me how he was fucking a girl half his age and she liked to be choked.

Another guy told me about the first girl that ever asked him to choke her and how it felt powerful. One time they were in the act and he was choking her and her eyes rolled back into her head. Her body went limp. He then slapped her awake. She said “Thank you for bringing me back,” then he continued fucking her.

What the fuck? This disturbed me. Who would want that? Choke out a young girl, thats not making love, thats some carnal strange right there. She asked for it, he said. She wanted it. She was looking for a little pain, a little pause in time and oxygen deprivation.

I bruise easily so I never really wanted to try it. But one time I was hooking up with someone and they were definitely dominant, and knew what they were doing. Their expert hands knew the exact pressure point to hit to cut off oxygen without hurting me. It felt like a whip. I needed to tap out, it was too intense, and not in a sexual way.

Erotic asphyxiation or breath play is when you intentionally restrict the flow of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal. The term autoerotic asphyxiation is used when the act is done by a person to themselves.

Gasper is used to describe a person participating in this fetish. Author George Shuman describes the effect as such, “When the brain is deprived of oxygen, it induces a lucid, semi-hallucinogenic state called hypoxia. Combined with orgasm, the rush is said to be no less powerful than cocaine, and highly addictive.”

When death occurs during auto-erotic asphyxiation often the families will “clean up” the scene and make it not seem sexual, but like suicide. If a partner is involved it can be classified as murder even if there was consent. Thats crazy!

Back to my conversation with the dirt ball. He also added “of course the girls are always younger” as if it would be gross to sleep with a woman his age or older. The other guy stated that he liked older women. I wonder if it was because he wanted to sleep with me.

Daddy complex- so many older men fetishize young girls, like the only creatures capable of sex are young fertile girls. It is absolutely disgusting how children are sexualized by the media for consumption by the scummy old men who rule the world. Goes the other way too when younger people are looking for sexual “guidance” perhaps to make up for a lack of actual parents in their life. A whole generation is being raised by the internet and are incapable of healthy relationships because of this.

Mommy complex- while most men seek out younger women they also take advantage of older women to do things like their cooking and laundry. For the most part they want to be treated like babies and also fuck babies.

Some people also put themselves into the mom role. I definitely do this. This is still problem, but a little less creepy. I will never have children pop out of my body but I will have an influence on younger people. I will help others grow with my wisdom and resources.

I love to feed people, I love having people in my home and cooking them a vegan feast. I will go without to fill someone else’s belly. I care about others in that ever loving maternal way.

For me, I feel funny if someone is much younger than me. When on dating sites/apps I usually swipe away from even 21-22 year olds because I know they are in a much different place than my 30 year old ass.

Do I fuck them to feel young? Is it like Elizabeth Báthory bathing in their blood? Ageism is rampant in porn and the sex industry. Age is a fetish too: nubile lolita vs dried up spinster, youth vs experience, it’s all what you are looking for.

Burlesque is so appealing because there no age restrictions. All bodies are beautiful and inspiring vessels. Everyone is fucking sexy! Old and fuckable are not oxymorons!

I love that people like to tell me the gory details, knowing that not many other people would be as impressed by their filth. I love being the one who knows the thing you can’t tell anyone else. I don’t get grossed out. I do disgusting shit everyday. We all do.

How do you react when you know dirt about someone your friend is thinking of dating though… like they start describing a random tinder hookup that they are falling in love with… same physical description, kinda average, kinda whatever… same job… wait he started what?… awww fuck that’s the guy that ____ to my friend when she was _____ and you think that maybe he _____ to you but you want to justify what happened.

Like staying with a phone company that sucks just to get an angry but loyal customer discount. You asked me if I ever stole anything from anyone.

We ate brunch, vegan tofu hash with a pita, strong coffee with almond milk, you had a bloody mary, we both hate olives. You very loudly told me about all of your sexplotations and adventures spanning the course of continents.

A man sat in earshot pretending to read. I forgot his name but we definitely knew each other. I did not make eye contact.

Hopefully our explicit conversation inspires him to make art. Us talking dirty on the patio of a cafe on a fall morning makes Buffalo that much more sexy. That kind of girl lives there, artists having conversations about art, sex, traveling, ridding ourselves of negative energy, and bonding over coffee and early morning alcohol that’s ok because it’s in tomato juice like a meal.

Talking about choking, fucking outside, and so much more. Things were said that would make anyone gasp. I know he had to read those pages over. We acknowledged each other as he left, he said he didn’t want to interrupt our conversation. You are welcome sir.

One of the ways to persecute is to rob people of their history. This was done by male historians seeking to undervalue the contributions of women. It was done by white historians seeking to confirm racist ideologies.

Now a group of all white judges has entrenched the power of a body created by a white majority government to rob the victims of residential schools of their history. On October 6, 2017 the Supreme Court of Canada made it legal for the authorities in charge of compensating the victims of the residential school system to destroy the records of the abuse after a given delay.

Before we get into why the highest court in Canada came to this decision, we need to talk about residential schools.

Residential schools refer to a system of schools established by the Canadian government and run by Christian religious groups in an attempt to assimilate the Native population into Canadian society. They operated in Canada from the late 1860s to the 1990s. Despite remarks by such insensitive racist imbeciles as Senator Lynn Beyak, the schools were a nightmare for the children and their families, the effects of which are still felt to this day.

During this period, children were ripped from their parents and forced to live at these schools where they were beaten, tortured, and raped in an attempt to wipe out their language, culture, and history. Parents who refused to give up their children were threatened with starvation. Survivor Ronnie Otter’s parents were told their winter rations would be withheld if they didn’t send their kids away.

Many of the victims who went as children are still haunted by memories of being forced into oral and anal sex, scrubbed raw with rough brushes, and fed food more fit for livestock. Though they were promised good schooling, they were given a fifth grade education and trained to do manual labour such as agriculture, housework, and woodworking, not unlike in the Bantu education system of apartheid South Africa.

In 2008, the Canadian government under Stephen Harper issued a much needed formal apology to the victims and their families. In the apology the Canadian government formally recognized that:

“…this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country… ”

It should be noted however that while Canada’s Anglican, Presbyterian, and United Churches have apologized for their role in what happened to the eighty thousand survivors and their families, the Catholic Church has not. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops claims that the independence of individual dioceses and their bishops absolves them of any responsibility. It is both ironic and unfortunate that the authorities of a religion so dependent on symbolism are incapable of providing even a symbolic show of remorse so desperately needed by people tortured in their name.

That said, let’s talk about how and why the Supreme Court came to their decision.

The records referred to in the Supreme Court’s decision are specifically those from the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) resulting from the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

The Agreement was the result of a consensus reached between the legal representatives of survivors, the Churches involved, the Assembly of First Nations and other aboriginal organizations and the Government of Canada on how to address the legacy of residential schools. It was brought on by numerous class action lawsuits against the Canadian government by the victims of residential schools seeking compensation and recognition for the persecution they endured.

Among the things agreed upon was a Common Experience Payment for all eligible survivors of the residential schools, a form of financial compensation for the victims of abuse at the hands of the government and the Churches acting in its name. Eligibility was determined by the Independent Assessment Process which entailed survivors disclosing extremely sensitive information about the abuse they suffered and the consequences therein. The information also included medical reports, hearing transcripts, and reasons for decisions in each case, all of which are held by the Government of Canada. The overall goal was to determine the credibility of each claimant and the harm they suffered.

As per the Supreme Court’s ruling, these records can be destroyed after fifteen years, though individuals can apply to have the information in their files preserved. The Court decided on destruction of the records after a certain delay for a few reasons, the primary one being that of confidentiality.

The Supreme Court decided that all participants in the Independent Assessment Process agreed on destruction of the information as part of the high degree of confidentiality of the process, the same way one would for a contract. Confidentiality was agreed upon in part to allow the victims to retain ownership of their stories and the horror of what they endured while maintaining their privacy. It was also to ensure the participation of religious organizations that would not have done so otherwise despite their active participation in the abuse.

The Court also stated that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established as part of the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was for “creating a complete historical record of the residential schools system, and promoting awareness and public education of Canadians about the residential schools system and its impacts”. The court said that those who participated in the IAP were welcome to share their experiences with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and that the confidentiality rules ensured them that choice.

The decision appears to be based on preserving the dignity of Residential School survivors, but it has a flipside of destroying records of abuse that implicate the government and religious groups that should be held to account for what they did. Though a survivor may want to keep their experience confidential, that can change in fifteen or sixteen years whether or not they apply to preserve the records. At the end of the day, the only people this decision protects are the abusers and the people who allowed it by destroying the evidence.

This past Monday, after nearly three weeks of jury selection, the trial for Lac Mégantic began in Sherbrooke. Train engineer Thomas Harding, 56, railway traffic controller Richard Labrie, 59, and manager of train operations Jean Demaître, 53, all face forty seven counts of criminal negligence causing death. If found guilty, they will each face life in prison.

For those of you who don’t remember, here’s a recap of what happened on that fateful day in 2013.

On July 5, 2013 a Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train carrying 7.7 million liters of petroleum crude oil arrived at Nantes, Quebec bound for Saint John, New Brunswick and the locomotive engineer parked the train. Another engineer was scheduled to take his place the next day.

The engineer contacted the rail traffic controller in Farnham, Quebec, and then the rail traffic controller in Bangor, Maine. To the latter, the engineer said the locomotive had been having mechanical difficulties throughout the trip, causing excessive amounts of black and white smoke. As they both believed the smoke would settle, they agreed to leave the train as is until the next morning.

Some time after the first engineer left, firefighters were called in to deal with a fire on the train. They shut off the locomotive’s fuel supply and the electrical breakers inside, as per railway instructions. Firefighters also met with a railway employee and track foreman who’d been sent to the scene, but neither had locomotive knowledge. They contacted the rail traffic controller in Farnham, and the train departed shortly afterward.

What happened next is rather technical unless you’re a mechanical engineer, so I’ll try to simplify it as much as possible.

Mechanical difficulties on the train got worse, affecting the brakes of the locomotive which are used to help regulate speed. At 1 am on July 6, 2013, the train headed downhill towards the town of Lac Mégantic. Without the locomotive effectively controlling its velocity, the train picked up speed. At 1:15 am the train derailed, spilling 6 million liters of crude oil and causing a large fire and multiple explosions.

Forty seven people died that night. Most were confirmed dead by the local coroner but some have not been found but are presumed dead, incinerated by the blasts. Two thousand people were evacuated from the site, forty buildings and fifty three vehicles were destroyed.

Aerial photographs of the site show over six blocks of scorched ground. The spill contaminated thirty-one hectares of land, and a hundred thousand litres of crude oil ended up in Mégantic lake and the Chaudière river via the town’s sewer systems, surface flow, and underground infiltration.

As with any disaster of this magnitude, heads must roll for it, figuratively, not literally. In this case, it is three former Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway employees who are on the chopping block, though not everyone agrees they are the ones who should be.

Some Lac Mégantic residents like Jean Paradis resent that the executives of the now bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway are safely in the United States instead of answering to survivors in Quebec. Paradis was inside a bar when it happened and watched his friends die in the fire. He told Global News the rail company put making money above safety measures.

A train belonging to the now bankrupt Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway

“Security should be first, not third,” he said.

The Transportation and Safety Board of Canada (TSBC) seems to confirm the notion that the management of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway are somewhat responsible for the disaster. Their report released in August 2014 following a lengthy investigation revealed many factors contributing to what happened which included:

  • Improper repairs
  • Mechanical issues i.e. things being bent out of shape, brakes not working, engine problems
  • “Weak safety structure”

Chemical engineer Jean-Paul Lacoursière of the University of Sherbrooke read the report and agrees that railway management should at the very least be called to testify at the trial. His impression is that the company did not make sure employees were properly trained, nor did they make sure they understood the training they received. He feels this lack of leadership, risk management, and ineffective training were all contributing factors to the disaster.

It is not the leadership of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway or even the company itself that’s on trial. Superior Court Justice Gaétan Dumas’ instructions to the jury included a reminder that the railway company is not on trial, and that they must treat the defendants as if they were facing three separate trials for forty seven counts of negligence causing death.

The prosecution, led by Crown Prosecutor Valerie Beauchamp, plans to present thirty six witnesses. The trial is expected to go on until just before Christmas. The residents of Lac Mégantic, for the most part, just want to move on from what happened, equating the trial of Harding, Demaitre, and Labrie to holding generals responsible for losing a war.

As the town recovers, we must not forget who we lost in the disaster. Instead of speculating on the outcome of the ongoing trial, I’m going to conclude with a list of the victims below.

Let’s not focus on how they died, but remember them for who they were and how they lived.

Andrée-Anne Sévigny – Age 26
David Martin – Age 36
Michel Junior Guertin – Age 33
Éliane Parenteau-Boulanger- Age 93
Élodie Turcotte – Age 18
Geneviève Breton – Age 28
Guy Bolduc – Age 43
Henriette Latulippe – Age 61
Talitha Coumi Bégnoche – Age 30
Bianka Begnoche – Age 9
Alyssa Begnoche – Age 4
Jean Pierre Roy – Age 56
Jimmy Sirois – Age 30
Marie-Semie Alliance – Age 22
Joanie Turmel – Age 29
Gaetan Lafontaine – Age 33
Kevin Roy – Age 29
Marianne Poulin – Age 23
Marie-France Boulet – Age 62
Richard Veilleux – Age 63
Martin Rodrigue – Age 48
Maxime Dubois – Age 27
Melissa Roy – Age 29
Natachat Gaudeau – Age 41
Réal Custeau – Age 57
Stephane Bolduc – Age 37
Karine Champagne – Age 36
Sylvie Charron – Age 50
Yves Boulet – Age 51
Marie Noelle Faucher – Age 36
Kathy Clusiault – Age 24
Karine Lafontaine – Age 35
Diane Bizier – Age 46
Éric Pépin Lajeunesse – Age 28
Fréderic Boutin – Age 19
Yannick Bouchard – Age 36
Stéphane Lapièrre – Age 45
Roger Paquet – Age 61
David Lacroix-Beaudoin – Age 27
Mathieu Pelletier – Age 29
Jean Guy Vielleux – Age 32
Jo Annie Lapointe – Age 20
Lucie Vadnais – Age 49
Jacques Giroux – Age 65
Louisette Poirier-Picard – Age 76
Denise Dubois – Age 57
Wilfrid Ratsch – Age 78

It was like being at a playground with no bullies, an island where the mean kids were eaten by the piranhas in the mote. Human centipedes and oversized drag queens ran wild, smiling half naked fat people covered in glitter howling at the moon, everyone was queer, penises had goggly eyes, dildos were flying free, dog shit was on the menu, size 13 heels digging into the dirt as we followed a trail of Tiki torches, whip it remains, discarded wigs, and plastic pink flamingos towards true freedom, the safest safe space, a revolution, true freaks united to exist in a place of pure bliss. Welcome to Camp John Waters.

I drove to Kent, Connecticut from Buffalo NY, stopping to steal a kiss at 4:20 and send my roomie/bestie/ride or die/ down AF off to the NY Burlesque Festival for the weekend (because YES, Camp JW is even more important than THAT).

I remember months ago a few of my friends shared a link about the camp and I knew right away that I needed to be here. Born to wander solitary, I love going places alone, you never know what you will get into or who you will connect with.

I had my costumes ready months ago, we did a show at The Buffalo Infringement Festival called Don’t Go Chasing John Waterfalls. It was a tribute to John Waters.

All of my costumes were shoved into black trash bags and thrown into my HHR. This weekend was going to be the biggest audition of my life! When I read the description I imagined Divine on a zipline, Edith Massey on water-skis, or Mink stole with a flaming bow and arrow. I couldn’t wait to do boondoggle with weirdos and tell sexual horror stories around the campfire.

My first look was strong. I considered breaking it out for the costume contest but am glad I chose how I did. I wore the perfect Aunt Ida black jumpsuit. A thriftstore find, I remember putting it on excitedly after finding it on the pajama rack without panties on.

Labia to the crotch of the most perfect vinyl 90’s fetish wear, that was DEFINITELY worn. I inadvertently had sex with that person’s old crusty juices. The dust of ancient crabs couldn’t keep this perfect item of clothing off of me.

That is the kind of commitment I have to a life of true filth. Filth is my life, filth is my politics, filth is freedom and revolution.

I strutted toward dinner, this was a party that everyone arrived late to. The tent felt like a wedding, I sat alone, and then was joined by beautiful people, who would quickly all become my trashmates.

I watched John Waters eat. That felt strangely stalkery, so I then just shoved bread dipped in red lipstick and glitter in my mouth and looked everywhere else. People lined up to talk to him while he was eating. AMATEURS, I thought.

He told us some camp stories, motivated us all to be a little more political, inspired some circle jerks, and made me happy that I came. Where will I be at 71? John Waters has done it, and still fucking does it!

Bad taste is my fetish. That dream lit tent was overflowing with creative juices (and other juices too I am sure). Everyone was sensational, it was a totally empowering celebration.

The meet and greet was incredible, but strangely anti-climatic since I knew my real chance to shine was the costume contest. John asked me if my name was spelled with a C or a K, I told him C but that I would literally change my name if he spelled it the other way. Then he asked me if my mom was a stripper or a hippy. I said both, naturally. My polyester floral dress looked perfect next to his blue toned blazer.

Quickly drunk off of my new friends’ wristbands and whatever the drug fairy was handing out. The music was awkward at times, but the Camp Getaway staff made up for it!

Bluto was our jolly host, he partied harder than all of us. His wonky Edna Turnblad tits were on point. Color wars involved team building exercised like bouncing on a horse, tossing water balloons, and breaking balloons with a pelvic thrust. Team red baby, I bounced us to victory that round. Lunch with Pissy was brilliant, I fucking loved her blue sequins, crowd humping, and flawless mashups.

Except for this DJ. He didn’t get it. This was his reaction while I ate shit on stage. His fucking face is all the justification I need. Shocking, disturbing, out of control, yet still artful and smart.

Beautiful women with boners, vagina dentata, ALL OF THE LEOPARD, sky high drag queens with rubber tits and wigs that touch the ceiling, dykes with frizzed mullets, hand painted shirts, pencil thin mustaches, and pubic hair galore! I even saw a real live tea bagging!

I hear there was a blow job contest too! Does anyone know who won it? Was it in our dreams? Can we also talk about how spot on The Corny Collins Show in the boathouse was? It was perfectly decorated. The staff looked straight out of the 60’s. Integration for all!

They told us to just say our name and who our character was. I could not do that. This is my stage and I have layers on. I was right after the trash can. I ferociously grabbed the mic, put my gun in the air, and screamed KILL EVERYONE EAT SHIT I AM DIVINE!

Then I ripped off my perfect red sequin fishtail dress to reveal white fringe, and lifted the stuffed dog I was carrying, squeezed it, and as the “shit” plopped onto my face I knew that I had achieved my goal. As I bent over to reveal my giant skid mark I could hear him laugh and the crowd roared. I stormed off stage. History was made.

When he announced the winners I was ready. Third place was the best Hatchet Face, he was so good! The makeup, the movements, orgasmic! Then Number 2… THE STRIPPER THAT ATE SHIT! He commended me on giving a whole act.

The 1st place winner was the most spot on Aunt Ida in white, with the bloody hook hand and perfect hair. She looked like Edie back from beyond the grave. He ended with FUCK YOU MISS AMERICA!

Fuck yes! It was such an incredible moment a lifetime in the making. However, it had to end quicker than I wanted. I had to take a horrible shit the entire time I was on stage.

My biggest fear is that my chocolate stain would be an actual dihaerra stain dripping out of my tighty whities. I pooped myself in a Dollar General once while wearing a dress. Luckily it was a long dress and I got out of there before anyone saw.

This was not going to be one of those days. I rushed by my idol to go explode in the shitter. It could not have been more appropriate. In the end, it was all for a lousy t-shirt. That was what I officially won.

I want to call out all of the incredible people I met and experienced, but the list is too long.  A man painted a landscape with his cock and also fucked a stuffed chicken during the costume contest! Thank you, sir.

There were so many wonderful costumes, everyone was truly a star! So many quick changes, every meal was a new look. I was honored to be there.

I also won an audience with the Pope of Trash himself. I am a memory in his mind, hopefully a highlight from his inaugural camp. I knew very well that I really didn’t look like Divine, but I am a method actor like he was. I am an only child weirdo turned glamour queen.

My life changed when I first saw Hairspray and Pink Flamingos. I finally knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up” or whatever you want to call it . My color scheme was set.

I was obsessed with drag queens and all things subversive as a child. It was a definite sign of things to come. I was never afraid to be myself. Just like this night, I had only just begun.

We lingered outside for a long time after the party ended. My new friends sang and I did an impromptu burlesque number down to bare nips. The lights went out, then the real party began deep in the woods (just kidding it was like the first cabin)… it was MORTVILLE!

Our Queen made us all put our clothes on backwards and drink illegal liquor. There soon was a giant Plush Papa Smurf and Moose, that really spiced things up. The goggly eyes from my nipples ended up on the tip of a cigarette smoking dick. At one point there was a sphincter twirling the hypnotist wheel.

Debachery levels were high and so were we. There was so much sequins and lack of fucks. I could live in that time and place.

The Glam Gam gang from Montreal gets my vote for the Filthiest Campers! Especially my bizarro sibling, Michael J. McCarthy. Until this weekend, these wonderful creatures were just something I had seen on the internet.

I wrote a piece about their Odorama show at Cafe Cleo last year and fate brought us together. I can’t wait to perform with them in the future, look out for my triumphant return to Montreal!

I hated to go to sleep, but I had a burlesque class to teach in the morning. Wait, WHAT? How did that happen? I was in the right place at the right time. They had advertised burlesque and the instructor bailed. I jumped at the chance to teach TRASHLESQE right after a late breakfast to a bunch of hungover John Waters fans, my people.

I started off with some Divine into Iggy Pop I Wanna Be Your Dog. During the number I took a jar of chunky peanut butter out of my underoos. That was obviously homage to when Iggy Pop smeared peanut butter all over himself and his fans at a live concert. I saw Iggy for the first time this summer at Burger Boogaloo.

When I was done with my performance I asked if anyone wanted to clean off my cock. Nobody jumped at the chance. I was disappointed to say the least. Nobody lived up to my standard of filth that morning. I then proceeded to take two pieces of bread, wipe of the dick, and made me a sammich.

I then told the class to all remove their shirts and gave them a golden shower (glitter of course). LOVE YOUR BODY… touch yourself like you want to fuck yourself, own your sexuality, flaunt your flaws because they are perfection.

I asked people what they wanted their burlesque name to be, danced with them, and taught a few peeps how to spin tassels (it’s all in the knees). Burlesque is for everyone, just like the whole weekend in general. It doesn’t matter if you are big or small, young or old, male/female/trans/non binary, you have the freedom to express yourself and people will feed off of your positive energy.

Treating life as a stage will transform you to new states of being! You are powerful. Confidence kills all fear. THERE ARE NO BULLIES HERE!

Oh, Camp John Waters, how I loved you so. I was a lifeguard for awhile, floating on the giant inflatable flamingo  with my mullet, magnum condoms in my sweatband, just keeping people safe.

Sadly I am still too big for the zip line (250lb weight limit). Bloody Mary Bingo and Cards Against Humanity for the win.

Next year how about Divine and wine paint party? Make merkins and pasties? Adult balloon animals? Porn collages? Drag makeup workshops?

Yoga should be called Learn how to suck your own cock, Zumba should be called MILF Bod 101, booze should be served 24 hours, the bonfire should be a giant lobster effigy, and the end, there needs to be a Dirty Dancing-style talent show so all of the spectacular weirdos can strut their stuff and show the world that we are unstoppable.

I don’t have the heart to unpack. My car is still full of costumes and there is still crusty peanut butter on my pretty pink strap-on.

It is impossible to come down from such an incredible high. I met my idol AND impressed him. What next?

All I know is that I will be there next year! I am already signed up to perform and teach another Trashlesque class. Dreams to come true!

See you next year campers, I love you all. Stay trashy.

Chelsea Manning is a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst. She leaked thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks about civilian deaths and the abuse of detainees by the Iraqi forces under American supervision during the Iraq War.

She was arrested back in 2010 when she was known as Bradley Manning. In 2013 she was convicted of six breaches of the Espionage Act, though she was acquitted of the charge of Aiding the Enemy.

For her crimes, Manning was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison. She served seven years before (now former) President Obama used his powers of presidential clemency to commute her sentence in 2016. Despite the commutation, when Chelsea Manning attempted to visit Canada this past Monday, she was denied entry.

At first glance, denying Manning entry into Canada feels absurd. Yes, she was convicted of a crime, but her sentenced was commuted.

That’s like a pardon, right? She should be allowed into Canada, right?

Unfortunately, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

The issue of whether or not convicted criminals are admissible to Canada is where the subjects of criminal and immigration law cross. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus primarily on convicted criminals from the United States who attempt to enter Canada.

Fortunately, Chelsea Manning herself generously posted on Twitter a copy of the letter she was given upon being denied entry by Canadian border agents:

The letter says that she was denied because of paragraph 36(1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a federal law that defines admissibility and inadmissibility to Canada.

Article 36 of the law refers specifically to inadmissibility based on serious criminality. Some of the criteria under which someone would be considered inadmissible to Canada on grounds of serious criminality include:

  • Being convicted in Canada of a crime with a maximum jail term of ten years or
  • Being convicted of a crime outside of Canada that, if committed in Canada, would have resulted in a custodial sentence of at least ten years or
  • Being convicted of an indictable offense in Canada or
  • Being convicted of at least two indictable offenses not arising out of a single occurrence or
  • Being convicted of an offense that would have been considered an indictable one in Canada

Chelsea Manning was denied entry into Canada because as per the letter she received, her conviction made her inadmissible.

The crime she was convicted of  – leaking classified government information under the American Espionage Act – has a Canadian equivalent: treason. Under the Canadian Criminal Code, the maximum penalty for treason is life imprisonment. As the rules state, if the crime you were convicted of abroad would carry a sentence of ten or more years in jail if you’d committed it in Canada, you’re inadmissible for entry into the country.

Canada and the United States generally do not recognize each other’s pardons.

An American pardon does not mean a conviction will be invisible to border agents. Though the information they find will likely indicate the pardon and might tell border agents that the person has rehabilitated themselves, it’s no guarantee they’ll get into Canada.

Chelsea Manning did not receive a pardon from Barack Obama, her sentence was commuted.

A pardon would mean her crime was forgiven and it would be as if she’d never committed it.

According to the US Department of Justice which handles requests for presidential clemency, a commutation of a sentence does not change the fact that a person was convicted of a crime, nor does it imply innocence, or remove any barriers a person would have as a result of their conviction.

All a commutation does is reduce the person’s sentence, either partially or completely. In the case of Chelsea Manning, she served seven years in prison instead of the thirty-five prescribed by her sentence.

Manning may be out of jail, but the other consequences of her criminal conviction remain.

That said, Chelsea Manning has promised to appeal the decision of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, but she will have a tough road ahead. Her crime is considered “serious criminality” under Canadian law, and according to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, there is no way to appeal a decision of inadmissibility on grounds of serious criminality.

According to Buzzfeed, a source close to Manning said she would appeal on the grounds that there is really no equivalence to the US Espionage Act in Canadian Law or the law of other countries besides the US.

There is, however, a way to pre-empt a potential refusal at the Canadian border for criminality reasons.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has a process called “Criminal Rehabilitation” that allows foreign nationals with criminal convictions to apply for individual criminal rehabilitation allowing them to enter Canada. It should be noted, however, that even if Manning had filled out such an application, she would not currently be approved due to its selection criteria, which requires that at least five years have passed since the completion of her sentence.

Travel of any kind can be a nuisance, but it is doubly so if you come a long way only to realize you’re being barred from your destination due to a past criminal conviction. Annoying as they are, some argue that rules regarding criminality and admissibility to Canada are essential to national security. Others, like Canadian free speech attorney Jameel Jaffer, who spoke with The Intercept on the subject, feel there is no way Manning could possibly pose a threat to Canadian security.

Chelsea Manning is a hero to some and a traitor to others. The issue with her coming to Canada seemed not to do with her crimes, but with the fact that she was convicted. She may be able to come Canada some day, but for now it looks like she’ll have to wait five years.

Why do people get turned on by the chase? It is easier to feel tingles for someone who is out of reach. Why are the tingles so fucking important?

When someone is sitting there legs spread, waiting for me in worship, I always hold back. Thinking it’s too easy, it’s too good to be true, too sweet an offer to just blindly accept. Like a free cruise or money from a Nigerian Prince, there must be a catch. This incredible, smart, beautiful human can’t possibly be ga-ga over me, can they? I always feel like the big green monster clumsily making my way through life.

The greatest loves of my life thus far have been unrequited, crushing on the ones who don’t want anything to do with me. Loving those who are out of reach because I am addicted to the hurt. I don’t know my own worth.

Spending years being easy because it is easier to be easy. Love who you can get, fuck the one you are with. Maybe something will grow? I guarantee it won’t be love. Love is more often pretend than achieved, not to be taken lightly or deceived.

I want to worship the one who worships me back. I want to travel the world with someone who is proud to hold my hand. I want to be vegan together. I want to grow. Make art. Make love in beautiful places, touch me under a waterfall, hold me under the stars, kiss me in my car, let me know that I am not alone by simply being with me.

I have spoken of radical requited love before, but only now am I truly believing in it. Or am I? I don’t know what I believe. In any aspect of my life really. I spend my days in a cloud of general confusion. But I do know one thing: “My love, my love, my love she keeps me warm.” I have always loved that Mary Lambert song. I have to look in the mirror and tell me that I deserve it. The warmth of arms protecting me, holding something they cherish.

I know I am incredible. I do shit, I am someone, I fucking sparkle. I always knew that someone would come along and compliment me. Not just a color out of the tube, this person must me a mix of all the good, a new shade, completely original, wrapping their soul around mine in a sweet song, a delicate embrace, perfect understanding, and wavelength compatible.

I never want to be a wife. The fantasy still does not cross my mind. That word means property. I am a partner, in crime and happiness, bliss and misfortune.

I have been single for so long that I don’t know what it’s like to be dependent on another. I don’t need to lean on you.

I have been contemplating polyamory for years, since I picked up the book The Ethical Slut in a radical bookshop in Indiana years ago. I never thought it was viable because I couldn’t imagine finding even one person to love me, let alone many. But I see it. I see the beauty in never ending your options, never shutting yourself off forever. There is no be all end all. Love is fluid and ferocious. It is an organism, alive and pulsing, spewing.

Saying I love you is another thing altogether. I wonder if I have ever actually said it and felt it at the same time. I know that I have said it and I know that I also have felt it, but really there is a grey zone. I remember saying it in those early relationships, boys who wanted to wife me, I loved how they loved me. But I don’t think I loved them, not really, I was not capable of it at that point.

I have met someone. She is so kind, a daughter of the earth and stars, she makes my heart smile, she cares about animals, she cooks, she hikes, she is a musician. I can’t find a single flaw in her. It is a feeling like no other, to hold someone who looks at you with wonder, looks at you like the sun rises and sets in your eyes. My flaws fade away when she sweetly kisses them. My beautiful sunflower queen stands now on serene mountain path that she built.

I want something to go wrong. I make things go wrong when I feel like I am not worthy. It is strange how easy this is. Strange how simple it is to just be together. I always feel like something has to give. Instead I need to just let it be, enjoy the bliss like a woman’s hand on a canvas, spreading and pushing paint, blowing it with her sweet lips, spit.

She sent me flowers, big bright yellow sunflowers bursting out of a now forgotten moldy vase. Now dried and shriveled memories on my dashboard. I want to buy her a drum and plant a field of sunflowers for us to dance in. I want to twirl my dress for her.

Let’s eat vegan donuts and listen to Ani Difranco. Let’s dive into each other. Let’s drive across the country. Let’s paint on the same canvas, strapped between two trees in the forest, on a path that you built for me to wander down.

There is room for me to finally be happy. Room to explore. I harbor others negativity, I hold their pain in my heart until it is as unrecognizable as my own. I choose happiness. I want to spread legs and love, spread kindness and open doors of bliss and positivity, open arms to all humanity. Nobody is immune to loneliness. Everyone deserves this loveliness.

How does one exactly “do” lesbian sex? Fingering, fisting, eating out, scissoring? I was told it’s awesome to grind your clit on a girl’s tits. Dildos: double ended strap-on rabbit shake butt plug, give your clitoris a hug. Which is the top tonight? Switch bitch. I just want to touch and rub, rub, rub.

I have never fucked a woman with a strap on cock. I have always fucked women tenderly, not wanting to hurt them, but I know I like to be fucked differently. I need to fuck how I want to be fucked. Dive into masculine femininity, hot oozing butch, luscious layers of genderfuck brilliance.

Love is like an orgasm. Elusive. Freeing. Scary. Easy to fake, but not really. Not as common as you think. I still don’t think I have had one – an orgasm or true love. Or if I have it hasn’t been as earth shattering and mind blowing as the description on the back of the box indicates. Uncommon like the butterflies of blissful ignorance.

Back to the tingles, it always stems back to them. I can remember the moments that people have made me tingle. It lights up your whole body, makes you feel scared and alive. That means you are nervous, right? So the tingles aren’t good? Do I ever make tingles erupt in her body?

Pins and needles in my lady parts, butterflies engulf my insides, flutter softly, swarm sweetly though my whole entire body, out my fingertips when I touch you. Yearning, CRAVING, full desire, want, need, must be with, dreaming in waking life. You are behind my eyes and I can see the future. I will run through our field of sunflowers, stroking the petals and eating the seeds to make sure it isn’t a dream. Guess, I’m not as scared as I thought.

In 2014, a truck ran into and killed cyclist Mathilde Blais as she rode through an underpass on St-Denis. City Hall opposition party Projet Montreal and other groups immediately called for something to be done. Now, it seems like the solution Mayor Denis Coderre’s administration came up with is to turn a potentially dangerous situation for cyclists into a different potentially dangerous situation for both pedestrians and cyclists.

The sidewalk on Atwater Avenue between Rene Levesque and St-Antoine heading towards the underpass near Lionel Groulx Metro is now also a bike path. At least that’s what the paint city workers put there indicates.

“They’re basically setting up future collisions between pedestrians and cyclists,” said Craig Sauvé, City Councillor with Projet Montréal in a phone interview, “or worse, if a cyclist has to veer into traffic at the last second to avoid hitting a pedestrian.”

Sauvé, who represents St-Henri, Little Burgundy and Pointe St-Charles and is a cyclist himself, knew that changes were coming, changes he and his party had pushed for, but seeing what the Coderre administration had actually done left him feeling bewildered and a little bit panicked.

“They’re not securing,” he commented, “they’re putting paint and saying it’s secure. In order to secure places, you have to give cyclists their space as well and if you don’t they’re going to take it and it will be the same zero sum game as there was before.”

Montreal’s bike paths are controlled by City Hall, regardless of the borough or boroughs (or even de-merged cities) they run through. Atwater isn’t the only recent painted change to come to light. On Montée de Liesse, paint directs cyclists to somehow drive onto a part of sidewalk that doesn’t even dip. If they dismount, they would be doing so in traffic:

Photo credit: u/butidigest on reddit

For Sauvé, a good solution to this mess would be delineating and protecting part of the roads going through underpasses with an actual barrier like one made of cement or even plastic poles. Something which, he observes, quite doable on Atwater as there are currently three lanes of traffic in either direction, one of which could easily be turned into a space for cyclists.

And that’s exactly what Sauvé, fellow politicans, activists and concerned citizens were asking the Coderre administration to do. It’s really not that hard. Instead of paint, just bring some plastic poles.

It seems like Coderre is all for bike safety as long as it doesn’t inconvenience motorists in the slightest. The health and safety of pedestrians is not even an afterthought, it’s inconsequential.

As a proud member of the BMW Set (bus, metro, walk), that just doesn’t fly. I’ve walked through that particular underpass countless times on the sidewalk and know that, especially when walking up the rather steep hill, the last thing you want to contend with is bikes whipping down it.

I wonder if anyone involved in planning these new “bike paths” had ever rode a bike or walked through any of the underpasses in question. It honestly looks like a mistake, one that they are repeating all across the city.

Could it be that they just don’t know? More likely they don’t really care and see bike safety as something they grudgingly pay lip service to and pedestrian safety as something that only matters when a bad story makes the news.

If the city really wants to make things safer for cyclists, they should ask cyclists what to do and really should consult pedestrians before dual-zoning a sidewalk on a rather steep incline. Otherwise they’ll wind up replacing one dangerous situation with one potentially more treacherous.

* Listen to the full interview with Craig Sauvé on the next FTB Podcast

The notion of pardons has made headlines recently with the Orange President’s pardoning of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio is involved in a racial profiling in a case in which his patrols targeted and imprisoned Latinos in an attempt to crack down on illegal immigration. He was ordered to stop but Arpaio told his subordinates he planned to continue business as usual. He was convicted of contempt of court and facing six months in jail…

That is until the Orange Racist decided to pardon him on August 27, 2017.

This article is not about the fact that the US President, Arpaio, and the US Attorney General are clearly America’s senile, racist grandpas who should have been left in nursing homes ages ago…

It’s about pardons and will look at how pardons work in the US and Canada. For the American model, I’ll focus on the Presidential Pardon as that is the one the Orange President is most likely to abuse as the Russia scandal unfolds.

Record Suspension in Canada

In Canada, a pardon is formally called a “record suspension” and despite what many think, it does not wipe your slate clean of any crimes you were convicted of in the past.

A record suspension means that your criminal record will be kept separate from your other criminal records. That means it will be removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database and won’t come up on a search. The purpose of this is to allow those convicted of a crime that have successfully rehabilitated themselves to reintegrate into society by opening up educational and employment opportunities they would not otherwise have access to.

Criminal record suspensions are governed by the Criminal Records Act. Though it only applies to records kept by federal organizations, most provincial and municipal criminal justice bodies will also restrict access to a federally suspended record once informed that a suspension has been ordered.

As per the Act, the Parole Board of Canada (“the Board”) has exclusive jurisdiction and “absolute discretion” to order, refuse or revoke a record suspension. Anyone convicted of an offense under Canadian law can apply to the Board for a record suspension, but there are a few catches.

First, you cannot apply for a record suspension until a certain time has elapsed after the expiration of your sentence. If your sentence was more than six months long or your fine greater than five thousand dollars, or if you were dismissed from the Canadian Forces – army, navy, or air force – and detained for a period of six months or had a punishment of over two years as per the scale of punishments set out in the National Defense Act, you must wait ten years before applying for a record suspension. If the offense was punishable on a summary conviction – a lesser type of penalty in which the maximum punishment is five thousand dollars or six months in prison – or is an offense other than those covered by rules for servicemen, you must wait five years before applying for a pardon.

It should be noted that there are some types of offenders who are ineligible for a record suspension regardless of how much time has elapsed since their conviction and sentence. People who have been convicted of sexual offenses towards minors as well as the trafficking of minors are usually ineligible for record suspensions. There is, however, an exception to this rule, and this where the Parole Board’s discretion comes in.

A person convicted of the above offenses can apply for a record suspension but will only get it if the Parole Board is convinced that the former offender was not in a position of authority towards the victim nor was the victim in a situation of dependency on the offender at the time of the offense. In addition, the Board must also be convinced that the offender did not use violence, coercion or intimidation against the victim. The offender also needs to be less than five years older than the victim.

It’s not just people who commit sex crimes against kids who cannot get a pardon in Canada. Any person convicted of more than three offenses prosecuted by indictment in which they were sentenced to two years or more in prison are also ineligible without exception.

If you successfully get a record suspended, it does not erase the conviction or the record of it. It simply sets it aside and can be revoked or cease to have effect if you’re convicted of a new crime, found to “no longer be of good conduct”, found to have lied, provided misleading information, or hidden info on your application, or if you weren’t eligible for a pardon when you applied. If you were convicted of a sex crime against minors but managed to get a record suspension under the Parole Board’s discretion, your file will still be flagged under the CPIC in the off chance that you try and volunteer or find a job working with a vulnerable group such as the elderly or children.

Pardons in the US

In the US, the Constitution grants the president the power to “Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment”. That means that he can pardon just about anyone for any criminal offense. As in Canada, the pardon can be used only for criminal offenses.

With a pardon, the president forgives the commission of the offense. According to the US Supreme Court, pardons can be issued at any time “after [the commission of an offense], either before legal proceedings are taken, or during their pendency, or after conviction and judgment”.

It is customary for the President to grant pardons based on the recommendations of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is charged with reviewing applications for presidential clemency. Their standards for assessing applications are according to the applicant’s post-conviction conduct, character, and reputation, the seriousness of the offense and how recently it was committed, the offender’s acceptance of responsibility for the offense and sense of remorse and atonement, “the need for relief” and official reports and recommendations. It should be noted however that the president is under no obligation to follow the DOJ’s recommendations nor can the DOJ restrict the president’s power to pardon under the US constitution.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

In order for a pardon to work, a warrant of pardon must be physically delivered to the person granted it. The recipient then can either accept it or reject it. If it is rejected, the courts cannot force the person to take it.

Unlike in Canada where the record is simply set aside, a presidential pardon has the effect of ending the punishment and “obliterates both conviction and guilt which places the offender in a position as if he or she had not committed the offense in the first place”.

Though presidential pardons appear absolute, there are many legal experts in the US challenging this because of Sheriff Arpaio.

Protect Democracy, an activist group fighting the President’s violations of legal norms recently sent a letter to the DOJ arguing that the pardon was granted in violation of its limits set out in the constitution. The group argues that the Constitution of 1787 is limited by later amendments including the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing equal protection before the law, and the Fifth Amendment guaranteeing due process.

In Arpaio’s case the Fifth Amendment comes into play because his actions leading to the conviction routinely violated Americans’ right to due process before the law and that in order to enforce this rule, the courts must be able to restrain government officials breaking them.

Whether the challenge succeeds or not remains to be seen, as there is no legal precedent for doing so.

As a rule, pardons do more good than bad. They allow people who made mistakes they’ve atoned for to move on and become productive members of society. As in anything, there is a danger when the power to pardon is absolute and vested in only one person, especially when that person is a senile, racist, whining misogynist.

It will be up to the American people and especially American jurists to recognize that what happens with Arpaio will be one more step in determining whether they are truly committed to democracy and rule of law or have resigned themselves to rule by an incompetent dictator.

In Quebec there is no law more hotly discussed, debated, or resented than Bill 101.

These days Bill 101 is seen one of two ways. People who love the Bill see it as necessary way to preserve Quebec’s Francophone identity in the face of cultural and linguistic assimilation attempts. Others see it as a means for Quebec’s French-speaking majority to treat the province’s other linguistic minorities like garbage.

The issue is a lot more complex than that and in order to properly explain, we need to go back in time.

The year was 1760 when Great Britain took over New France. British leaders replaced the French ones and did their best to impose their will on the French-speaking majority. This oppression went on for the next two hundred years during which there were Francophone rebellions to assert their rights but they were all quashed by the British. One of the few but significant concessions the British made to North American Francophones was allowing them to keep their Catholic faith despite the Crown’s dislike of the Papacy.

Everything began to change in the 1960s due in part to the Quiet Revolution in which every aspect of Quebec society from political patronage to the economy to social, cultural, and religious life came under scrutiny with the widespread recognition that change was needed. The increasing demand of Quebec Francophones for protections of their language and culture eventually led to the establishment of the the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, a federal commission that took place from 1963 to 1971.

The Royal Commission revealed that the number of French-speaking people in Quebec was not reflected in their actual political and economic representation. In 1965 Francophones made an average of thirty-five percent less than Anglophones and there were concerns about the lack of Francophone representation in federal institutions.

The actual inequalities had a few effects.

First was the belief that the status of the French language in Canada was fragile, the second was the rise of Quebec nationalism which argues that the only way Quebec can preserve its language and culture is to separate from an English-speaking majority Canada.

Bill 101 was brought in to preserve the French language in Quebec, but it was not the first law to try and do so. In 1969 Bill 63, the Act to Promote the French Language in Quebec was enacted, which required that kids receiving an English education get a working knowledge of French and that the government facilitate immigrants learning French when they arrive in Quebec. The law was disliked by Quebec Francophones because it didn’t go far enough; it was eventually replaced by Bill 22 in 1974.

Bill 22 was enacted by the provincial Liberal government under Robert Bourassa. It established French as Quebec’s official language and required that all immigrants arriving in Quebec learn French.

In 1976 the Parti Québecois under René Levesque took power and a year later, Bill 101 was enacted.

Bill 101 aka the Charte de la langue française made French Quebec’s official language and enacted a lot of the rules still in force today. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on the three sets of rules people seem to resent the most: the language of education, the language of commerce, and that of government services.

The law requires that kindergarten, elementary, and secondary school instruction be in French. There are exceptions to this and they work as follows:

  • If the father, mother (or both) is a Canadian citizen and received a major part of their elementary school instruction in English in Canada, one parent can request their child receive English instruction
  • If the father, mother (or both) as well as the child’s siblings are Canadian citizen and received or are receiving a major part of their elementary or secondary education in Canada in English, the child can go to English school

The law robs parents of the freedom of choice where their children’s education is concerned. It also allows the child to become a more employable adult, as French is the dominant language in Quebec and knowing more than one language improves job prospects overall.

Bill 101 also established French as the language of business. All product labels in Quebec are required to be drafted in French, as are all catalogues, brochures, and commercial directories. The law also requires that standardized contracts be in French, though both parties can agree to draft the contract in another language as well.

Perhaps the most hotly disputed aspect of Bill 101’s commerce rules is regarding signage laws. The law demands that all commercial signage, posters, and advertising be in French. Another language is permitted on commercial signage but only if “French is markedly predominant”.

Over the years these rules have often been used to persecute ethnic and religious businesses such as in 2001 when the Office québécois de la langue française – the office charged with making sure French is the language of commerce, work, and communication in Quebec – went after L. Berson & Fils, a now defunct Jewish funeral monument company in Montreal. Fortunately public outrage forced the government to back down.

In cases where the government proceeds with enforcing Bill 101, penalties range from fines of six hundred dollars and up to being disqualified from holding certain government jobs for a period of five years.

The most dangerous aspect of the law is regarding that of civil administration, specifically with regards to health and social services. Since they are government owned and operated under Canada’s public health care system, hospitals, CLSCs and clinics fall under the same French language requirements.

Though most people working in public health know to provide health and social services in the language to best serve the patient to the best of their abilities, some service providers have been accused of using language laws to refuse people necessary help. Hopital de Verdun, for example, has been accused on many occasions of denying English speakers health services because they cannot speak French.

Though it should go without saying, where a person’s health and safety are concerned, there should be no language barrier.

It should be noted that Bill 101 has been successfully challenged several times in the courts for violating the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights. To prevent further legal challenges, Quebec used the Notwithstanding Clause, a clause in our constitution that allows provinces to keep legislation in place notwithstanding the Charter. Since the court challenges, the law has been tweaked to make it more constitutionally compatible.

Bill 101 is like toothpaste. When applied correctly and in the right place it is a necessary evil to make sure that Quebec society functions despite what comes out of people’s mouths. When used incorrectly and in the wrong place it can be a pain in the ass. It’s up to us to keep challenging the government when they apply the Bill where it doesn’t belong.

Some things are more important than money. Things like knowing someone wants to be in a cabin in the woods with you, spending our days in no hurry, reading, making art, and building forts. Burning wood and making love, swimming naked under the stars and howling at the full moon.

I want to plant a field of sunflowers so we can hang out in them. I want to fly kites and climb trees, run through fields and streams, I want to rip my dress, and I want you to tell me it’s ok, because it’s just a dress and there are more important things to worry about.

Money has never been something that concerned me. I know it is a necessity for prosperity in a modern capitalistic society, but why? If everyone just went vegan, grew their own veggies, composted and repurposed everything, and just self sustained in general, we could all go on living in harmony forever without the evil tendrils of capitalism and greed sneaking into every orifice of our identity as humanity. Nothing is free though, is it?

The oldest profession is prostitution, trading your physical self, your lady tunnel and supreme mountains, the curves of your sweetness, for dirty green paper. Children are sold into sex trafficking rings across the world, its fucking horrific. Consent is what is needed, my body is mine alone.

Dirty green paper kills people, it is the root of all that is evil and wrong. I also use my body for money. I dance. I dance because I must, because there are so many things to say. I dance because I know people will always watch.

Amusement and titilation, the politics of body language are not universal. I live in a lace cage, its stretches but you can’t tear through, straps and garters, nets and spikes, don’t forget the blood red lips. Art is not free? You mean, I am worth something more?

It feels good to get paid for something you love. There is no such thing as too much boob. Counting crumpled dollar bills while naked like a drug dealer’s girl (they make women count money and bag drugs while naked so they don’t steal anything).

I give myself golden showers. Glitter for days. I always douse myself in the luminescent perfection. To be loved and hated for your glitter at the same time. Some people want me to rub my body all over them and steal my glitter. My disco tits inspire.

Others won’t touch me, those are the glitter is herpes people (and they can go fuck themselves). Burlesque is a beautiful world of sparkling bits (it is also getting fake shit on by a bag of chocolate frosting in your best friend’s crotch sometimes). Shock value is priceless, giving someone a moment they will never forget is what life is all about.

I barely break even, spending money on costumes and makeup as soon as I make it. My weekly show is just enough to buy a bag of weed and keep me in glitter.

Can I just live life topless? I want to start a BOOBER instead of Uber where I am just topless and charge 10 times as much. There will be a bouncer in the front seat.

Sometimes artists have a hard time doing free shows, feeling like their my time is precious and expensive. Artists are constantly expected to do work for free. Sometimes I am HAPPY to do things for free if I care about the project and want to donate.

And yes, it is true that I do not like money, I despise it and want to burn the capitalist system to the ground. I want to piss on its ashes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t need some money to live. Not to live life lavishly, but to survive and meet my basic needs and primitive wants. Go to Amy’s Place and get the vegan french toast AND the bbq seitan BIF sammich. I deserve it. I want to say yes to the dress and go to all of the concerts and plays. I want to take a day off to run through a field of blooming flowers barefoot.

I take my clothes off as currency. My revolutions and movements are enough to feed me. I am inspired to do this forever because I cannot trade my life for a cubicle. I will never ever work for the man or sit in an office ever again. I do not look good in a fucking pants suit.

More money more problems. Less money more problems. Seems like everything is just problematic. Happiness is easy if you stop worrying about bills and bullshit. Everyone should free their mind from insecurities and just get naked.

The roar of a crowd is invigorating, higher than any drug. People are more afraid of being naked then being burned alive. Let your confidence and beauty feed you. Take off your clothes every chance you get.

There is a racist misogynist money-grubbing cheeto in the White House who has recently and very publicly expressed his sympathy for White Supremacists and Neo Nazis and his contempt for those who fight them. His influence has spread northward to us, emboldening the most morally repulsive people in Canada to come forward and express their desire to see women ground into submissiveness and visible religious and sexual minorities killed.

When these pathetic excuses for human beings face public censure they always cry “free speech”. This article will look at what free speech protections there actually are in Canada and the United States, the laws governing hate speech and propaganda – if any, and the consequences therein.

As the United States is looking like a hotbed of racism, intolerance, and incompetence, let’s start with them.

Free speech protections fall under the First Amendment of the Constitution which says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment protects a wide range of speech no matter how distasteful, untrue, or hateful. Just about any time a city or state passes a law banning hate propaganda of any kind, a First Amendment challenge is brought to the courts.

The Supreme Court of the United States has sided with the hate-mongering petitioners almost every time. As it stands, you could publish or distribute something saying for example, that women or African Americans are stupid and don’t really deserve well-paying jobs and face no criminal legal consequences that would be upheld in a court of law.

In Canada, the situation is very different.

Though Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of thought, belief, and expression, the Canadian Criminal Code has a whole section devoted to censuring hate propaganda. The laws in question prohibit public incitement of hatred and the advocating of genocide against an “identifiable group”. The law carries penalties ranging from a fine to between six months to five years in jail. The law calls an “identifiable group”: “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.”

The prohibitions on hate speech do have a defense written into them which allows a defendant to beat a charge if they can prove on a balance of probabilities that the statements were true, they in good faith attempted to establish an argument on a religious subject, “the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest” or the person “intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada”.

Our Supreme Court recognizes that laws punishing hate propaganda violate our right to freedom of expression but in R v. Keegstra in 1990 a majority of judges agreed that the violation was justified and therefore constitutional.

James Keegstra was a teacher in Alberta who taught his students that Jews were (among other things) treacherous and child killers. Any students who contradicted his conspiracy theories got their marks docked. He was finally fired in 1982 after four years of complaints. A year later he was charged with promoting hatred. Keegstra was convicted and appealed the conviction.

In their decision, the majority Supreme Court justices said that the law was a proportionally reasonable limit on freedom of expression and that the objective of the law – “to reduce racial, ethnic and religious tension and perhaps even violence in Canada” – was rationally connected to the prohibitions in it.

Keegstra, for his part, remained an unrepentant anti-Semite and holocaust denier until his death in 2014. May he rest in Hell.

Although the United States has no criminal prohibitions against hate speech, there are other ways of censuring hate propagandists. As in Canada, the acts often associated with hate propaganda such as arson, assault, murder, theft, rape, and vehicular homicide are against the law in every state in the union. In addition, victims of hate propaganda can sue for libel, and though lawyers are costly, many in the US will work for the publicity alone.

In Canada, the rules for suing are different as provinces retain jurisdiction over civil law. In Quebec, you can sue for material damages, physical damages – meaning damages to your person, or moral damages – damages to your psyche. The burden of proof is a balance of probabilities and not beyond a reasonable doubt. All you have to do is prove that the hate monger and the propaganda they pushed are at fault for your damages.

Arguments against laws punishing hate propaganda range from the notion that punishing hate speech is being intolerant to the notion that criminalizing hate exacerbates the problem by furthering hate mongers’ narratives of victimhood. While the latter may be true, hate mongers generally adopt a narrative of victimhood regardless of whether there is real persecution or not. With the former, one must look at the paradox of tolerance.

The paradox of tolerance is the notion that part of being tolerant is tolerating intolerance. Historically it’s been proven that tolerance does not necessarily breed tolerance. Tolerance of intolerance all too becomes appeasement of the most evil elements in society, emboldening them further – the lessons of the Second World War and Nazi Germany are the clearest cases of this.

In these troubled times, we need to remember these lessons more than ever, or one day we’ll be the ones run over by a car, or lynched, or gassed.

Things are gonna change for me around here. Real soon. I’m done with being disrespected. I’m sick of being laughed at. I’m tired of being judged by passing birds. And most of all, I’ve had it up to here with being ignored by the cosmos. That all changes tomorrow.

I’m going to show all those women who dumped me. I’m going to show all those guys who always picked me last for badminton. I’m going to show all those dogs who just walked away when I tried to pet them. I’m going to show all the people who didn’t want to be friends with me just because I kept yelling at the sky. I’m going to show everyone.

I’m going to beat the shit out of the solar eclipse.

People are talking a lot of big game about this so-called “major astronomical event.” Like it’s some real hot shit or something. Like the moon and the sun converging once every few years is some big deal. Pfft, yeah, I have sex almost that often too. You’re not impressing me, eclipse.

I’m seeing all these Facebook events popping up for eclipse-watching parties. Everybody wants to be the eclipse’s friend. Well guess what? I’ve got a Facebook event for you. It’s called “Come at me, eclipse, I’ll knock your astral dick in the dirt.” Start time: the moment the edge of the punk-ass moon starts creepin’ onto that little bitch the sun. End time: after two hits; me hitting the eclipse, and the eclipse hitting the floor. The space floor.

Oh, you don’t think I can take the eclipse? You think just because it’s, like, twice the size of me I don’t stand a chance? You ever hear of a little story called David and Goliath? Yeah? Well Goliath isn’t gonna win this time. No, I’m taking that gradually-more-awe-inspiring-as-the-heavens-gloriously-align bastard down. The sun’s not gonna look so hot when you can’t even see it anymore! Because I punched it, that is. Not because it was eclipsed by the moon. Dammit, I feel like I really just muddied my point. Anyway.

How will I do it? Easy. First I’ll blend in with some regular spectators, wearing their dumbass eclipse glasses ‘cause they’re scared of it. Well I’m not. That’s when I’ll strike. I’ll pull off the stupid glasses, break them in two, and throw them in the ditch like a proud rattlesnake shedding the skin of a mighty wolf. Everyone around me will be like “whoa, who’s this cool guy? I wish he was my friend.”

Then I’ll look right at the eclipse and say something real badass, like, “hey, eclipse… time for lights out.” And we’ll stare each other down. Don’t worry, I won’t go blind. I’m tough. Besides, scientists say looking at an eclipse can destroy your retinas, and I won’t be looking at it with my retinas, I’ll be looking at it with my eyes, genius.

It’ll all be over pretty fast. Sure, the eclipse will probably get a hit or two in, but it’ll be no contest. Anyone who’s seen me practicing karate on clouds in the park knows that. And when it’s all over, and people are packing up their telescopes and microscopes and what have you, all everyone will be able to talk about will be how cool the guy is who beat the shit out of the eclipse, and how they all want to be his friend. All those stuck-up stars will be so jealous.

After word gets around the galaxy about what went down, the eclipse will think twice about showing itself around here again. And so will every other cosmic show-off. I’m looking at you, aurora borealis. You think you’re so pretty? Everybody just loves you, huh? Well I’m pretty too, you know! We’ll see who’s prettier after I kick your rippling green ass!

 

Photo by Takeshi Kuboki via flickr

WTF? Seriously, why are people creepy and evil? It is just a stream of murder and hate, a world in disarray. It has always been this way.

Young girls are constantly being objectified and used. Transgender and non binary humans live life in fear. Kids, especially black kids and other people of color, can’t walk down the street without being shot at or abducted.

“Its Death for no reason, and death for no reason is murder.”

– Morrissey

White supremacists with guns and torches are running people over in cars while a hate monger rules supreme. Mother earth is a woman in pain. Hunger is rampant and we are not allowed to be poor in public spaces.

There is no access to anything that is vital. I don’t have healthcare. Food deserts in the poorest neighborhoods. Oh yea, what about emininant war and nuclear holocaust? Heil Trump?! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!? NO! I have the words “FUCK NAZIS” written on my stomach from my last show. Hate has no place here.

The KKK took my baby away is now more ironic than it should be. I come from a place of privilege, I have always had food and access to education. I recently lost someone who was like a sister to me because of her racist views. We came from the same neighborhood, the East side of Buffalo.

This is devastating. I cannot be friends with someone who posts 14 Words on their Instagram. NO! Hate like this is disgusting and horrifying. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I am most sad that your children are going to be raised in hate, that isn’t fair, children are born to love and shine. I only wish that I can be a positive influence on them someday. I hope that you change, this is no way to exist. I will not go to a Black Lives Matter rally and then to a white supremacist’s birthday party.

Love is the revolution. Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity right? I don’t know what to do. I want to share vegan food with my friends, I want to pet my cats, I want to write poems, I want to make art.

I need to do all of these things with intention. Everything must be with a message, it all is political, art is life or death. We must all RISE UP together and stop this constant trend towards hate. We cannot be afraid. Together we are indestructible and that is the real wall, we will bind together in a rainbow of goodness and peace, love and pure connection, not color blindness but a celebration of diversity. I would not be me without you being you.

Stop being creepy, ask consent for everything, if she is too drunk let her sleep. Dance naked. Ride bikes naked. Recycle. Listen. Think. Sleep with musicians. Speak up. Write poetry, write your politicians, burn down the system. Ask people what their preferred pronouns are. Take into considerations other people’s cultures before you pass judgement. Kiss a dog. Plant a seed. Love uncontrollably, spread kindness not disease, bask in the joy that is being alive in this particular time and place. Make a difference. Stand up for others! When people need a friend it has to be you. This is no time to be lazy, we are all in danger. I love you, I will always love you. Don’t forget that.

* This title is a quote from my friend Valerie (photo above). She said it as I was writing this blog and I found it appropriate. She gives me hope.

Montreal Pride is upon us and with it the sights and sounds of people celebrating sexual diversity in an environment that is supposed to be safe and welcoming. Though in Canada we pride ourselves at our enlightenment on issues of sexuality and gender identity, we have still have a long way to go. Before we can move forward, we need to look at our past.

This article will look briefly at the history of LGBTQ struggles in Quebec and Canada, conduct a quick overview of current legislation, and do its best to present a picture of the status quo and what needs to be done to make our country safer and more inclusive.

During the British colonial period, homosexuality, known as “buggery” or “sodomy” was punishable by death. In 1861, the law was eased a bit and the penalty was changed to ten years to life in jail. Anti-gay laws almost always targeted men and the language of laws was kept intentionally vague in order to give huge discretion to law enforcement.

Starting in 1890, gays were generally charged with “gross indecency”, and between 1948 and 1961 changes to the Canadian Criminal Code were made, creating the categories of criminal “sexual psychopaths” and “dangerous sexual offenders”. Instead of persecuting rapists and pedophiles, the changes were disproportionately used to target gays. In addition, Canadian immigration law considered homosexuals an inadmissible class of immigrants.

The gay rights movement in Canada didn’t really gain momentum until the 1960s, when George Everett Klippert, a mechanic from the Northwest Territories, admitted that he was gay and had sex with men. In 1967 he was charged with “gross indecency” and sent to prison indefinitely as a “dangerous sexual offender”.

His conviction was sadly upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.

While Klippert was rotting in jail, the British government opted to decriminalize certain homosexual acts. Taking a cue from our Mother Country, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, at the time Justice Minister for Prime Minister Lester Pearson, began pushing the omnibus bill, a bill that would amend the Criminal Code to decriminalize homosexual sex, legalize contraception, and increase access to abortion. When asked about it, Trudeau told the press:

“It’s bringing the laws of the land up to contemporary society I think. Take this thing on homosexuality. I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation. I think that what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter, or when it relates to minors this is a different matter.”

The bill passed in 1969, and two years later, Everett Klippert was released from prison.

In 1977 Quebec passed its Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, a quasi-constitutional bit of legislation and the first of its kind to openly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Applicable to both private and public parties, the law bans discrimination in access to public spaces, contracts or refusal to enter into them, housing, and employment on the basis of many grounds including sexual orientation. The Quebec Charter also grants equal recognition, and bans harassment, and the distribution of discriminatory notices, symbols, or signs.

In 1978 Canada’s immigration laws were modified so homosexuals are no longer inadmissible.

In 1992, the ban on gays in the military was lifted. A few years later, in 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that same sex couples are entitled to the same benefits and under the same obligations as opposite-sex couples for the social programs they contribute to.

In the summer of 2005, Paul Martin’s government successfully passed Bill C-38, the Law on Civil Marriage, allowing same sex couples the legal right to marry. Attempts by Conservatives to reopen the marriage debate have failed and continue to do so to this day.

Over the years the Canadian Criminal Code has evolved to include “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression” in its definition of hate crimes. The inclusion of gender identity or expression is a recent addition by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Hate crimes include public incitement of hatred, advocating genocide, and willful promotion of hatred, which carry penalties ranging from six months to five years in prison. In addition, sentencing guidelines for the courts now include the obligation to consider aggravating circumstances that could add to a sentence, including evidence that the crime was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on factors that include sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

As it stands, life for Canada’s LGBTQ people is far from perfect. Many members of the LGBTQ community are still denied access to proper health care in Quebec and people are still being fired for being gay or transgender. Though the election of the orange bigot and the rise in hate crimes south of the border has bolstered support for LGBTQ groups, it has also given hatemongers in Canada the confidence to be more open in their hate.

Some Montreal institutions have to deal with homophobia in their recent past. Several groups have been calling on the City of Montreal and the Montreal Police (SPVM) to apologize for violent raids on gay clubs and parties in the 70s, 80s and 90s and just this year Projet Montreal City Councillor Richard Ryan and his party joined them. The raid on Sex Garage in 1990 was what sparked the movement that would ultimately lead to Montreal Pride.

Quebec launched initiatives in 2013 to fight homophobia, however queer people are still glared at in public for simply being themselves. Unfortunately, the one law that would firmly entrench LGBTQ rights – our constitution – still does not include protections for them, and partisan politics and the Quebec notion of us vs them where the rest of Canada is concerned will keep these protections from ever happening.

Protections for LGBTQ people are there but they could be a whole lot better.

This Pride, let’s do what the haters hate most – be out and proud and open and fabulous, while still firmly pushing for those changes Canada so desperately needs.